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Study: Medical Marijuana May Offer Relief To MS Sufferers

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - A new study is likely to fuel more debate about medical marijuana.

As CBS 2's Dr. Max Gomez reported, a study released last week found marijuana is bad for your heart. But there's new evidence it may be able to help treat some brain diseases.

There's evidence that medical pot can alleviate pain, nausea and vomiting caused by a variety of diseases and drug treatments.

As a result, 21 states and the District of Columbia have some version of legalized medical marijuana with varying restrictions from state to state, Gomez reported.

Now, there's some evidence of its effectiveness in patients with multiple sclerosis.

Many patients with debilitating brain diseases turn to marijuana after traditional treatments fail, Gomez reported.

A new review from the American Academy of Neurology shows that marijuana pills or spray can help some MS symptoms.

"The ones that were helped the most were pain, spasticity, which is tightness of the muscles, difficulty walking, which is usually related to spasticity," said Dr. Barbara Koppel, Professor of Neurology at New York Medical College.

But the findings suggest marijuana is not effective in treating Parkinson's disease or epilepsy seizures.

Dr. Koppel said that doesn't mean the drug doesn't work. Rather, at this point, there isn't enough research in those areas, including smoked marijuana.

"There were too few patients studied in the rigorous manner that we need in order to classify and say something conclusive," Koppel said.

Smoking marijuana is not without risks, including heart and lung damage and can impair learning and memory, perception and judgment.

But with marijuana now legal in many places, researchers hope it will be easier to conduct more rigorous studies to get a clearer picture of its risks and benefits.

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